(Saturday, March 12)
“168 Zham” complains that Armenian journalists were unable to put any questions to the speaker of Russia’s parliament, Sergey Naryshkin, and senior officials from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) during their visit to Yerevan on Friday. The paper says that they could and should have been asked about Russia’s “silence” over increased tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and its recent revelation of the types of weapons which Armenia will purchase with a $200 million Russian loan.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” expects the forthcoming debates on a new Electoral Code drafted by the Armenian government to be “heated and fruitless.” “The parties will make no serious concessions because their positions have been diametrically opposite and mutually excluding from the outset,” explains the paper. “The authorities have set themselves the task of pushing through an Electoral Code with which will enable them to falsify elections and always have a majority [in parliament,] whereas the opposition on contrary demands the passage of the kind of a code that would preclude or at least severely complicate fraud. What is more, the authorities make no secret of their objectives.”
“That the Armenian authorities will do everything to preserve the possibilities of vote rigging enshrined in the existing Electoral Code is beyond any doubt,” writes “Zhoghovurd.” “At the same time, the Armenian authorities desperately need to persuade international structures in that they are doing everything to hold free, fair and transparent elections. The backing of those structures is necessary for receiving funding for various [government] programs now that the economic situation in Armenia is worsening and every penny entering the country is important.” This situation, according the paper, puts the Armenian opposition in a strong position to clinch major government concessions on the issue.
“Aravot” says that the authorities not only remain adamant in rejecting anti-fraud safeguards championed by the opposition but are also reneging on their pledges to hold next year’s parliamentary elections on a solely party-list basis. “The authorities are ready to make concessions on other issues,” says the paper. It suggests that in these circumstances the opposition should concentrate on a limited number of concessions and do not distract itself and the public with other, less significant demands.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have met with pundits from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh in Tbilisi to discuss ways of resolving the Karabakh conflict. “Details of that confidential discussion are being withheld from the public,” says the paper.